Sunday, August 15, 2004

The New York Times > Week in Review > Najaf: The Silence of a Siege

The New York Times > Week in Review > Najaf: The Silence of a Siege:
"As American forces here battled rebels loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr here last week, the fighting was described as fierce or block by block. It was not. Outside the huge cemetery that was the focus of the battle, most of Najaf has been quiet, though tense."


On Thursday, even as news reports described a major new offensive, Army commanders spent much of the afternoon buying and distributing food from local merchants. They were rewarded when a group of children led them to a large weapons cache, including artillery shells and explosives, and to the man who had buried the arsenal. He was detained, American commanders said.

And after costly battles earlier in the week, even the cemetery itself - an enormous warren of mausoleums, shrines and crumbling brick graves overlooked by the golden dome of the Imam Ali mosque - had settled down some by Thursday. With afternoon temperatures topping 120 degrees, neither Mr. Sadr's rebels nor American soldiers wanted to fight much during the day in the dry, dusty graveyard. Fighting peaked at dawn and dusk, when teams of guerrillas pushed up against American armored vehicles, firing grenades and helping to target mortars fired from positions in Najaf's old city.

Many soldiers said they were surprised by the bravery and ferocity of Mr. Sadr's rebels, who are outgunned and keep coming though scores of them are killed for every casualty they inflict.…

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/15/weekinreview/15bere.html
con·cept: The New York Times > Week in Review > Najaf: The Silence of a Siege